Earth Overshoot Day is today

Press release 2018-08-01 at 7:57

The Ministry of the Environment and WWF Finland report

Today, Wednesday, 1 August, people have used up all the resources the Earth can regenerate. It takes us only seven months to exhaust the natural resources that should last for the whole year. The biggest reasons for the overshoot are related to animal-based food production and to greenhouse gas emissions arising from transport and housing.

The Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when, according to calculations, people's consumption exceeds the Earth’s biocapacity, i.e. the capacity to generate renewable resources and process the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. With our current consumption, we would need 1.7 Earths to meet the demands of sustainable use of natural resources. The Earth Overshoot Day is based on the calculations of the Global Footprint Network.

Alarming reports have been received about the consequences of the overshoot to people and nature. In March 2018, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessed that worldwide degradation of land and the living environment adversely affects the wellbeing of 3.2 billion people. It is estimated that by 2050, the deterioration of the living environment will be the biggest single reason for species extinction and lead to the displacement of millions of people. The WWF’s Living Planet 2008 report estimates that the number of vertebrate animals has decreased by 58 per cent in approximately 40 years.

"The concept of overshoot is not based on theoretical calculations only. Its most serious consequences to people and animals are reality even today. We need to adopt more sustainable consumption patterns without delay," says Liisa Rohweder, CEO of WWF Finland.

"Using more from Nature than our planet can renew is unsustainable and short-sighted. We need to transfer to the circular economy soon – a society where products are durable, materials are used effectively, and producing goods and services causes clearly less emissions than today. At the same time, each one of us should be prepared to reduce and change our material consumption," says Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing Kimmo Tiilikainen.

In global terms, the biggest reason for the overshoot is the use of excess energy for housing and transport. The overshoot plays a significant role in food production, too. Nearly 80 per cent of agricultural land is used for producing meat and for other animal-based food production.

Overshoot is harmful for biodiversity

It is estimated that Finns consume their own share of the Earth's natural resources approximately four months earlier than the global average. In Finland, the national Overshoot Day fell earlier than before, on 11 April. If everyone in the world consumed as much as the average Finn, 3.6 Earths would be needed to sustain them.

The Finns' consumption has significant impacts worldwide. Every day we consume goods that are based on raw materials originating in areas where the local inhabitants depend on thriving nature. The consequences of the overshoot are often felt in the living environment of the poorest people of the world. Examples of this include deforestation, drought, soil erosion, and deterioration of biodiversity.

"The consumption of natural resources must be markedly reduced to halt biodiversity loss. This is also vital to ensure sufficient agricultural land for feeding the growing population of the world," says Liisa Rohweder.

Inquiries:

Liisa Rohweder, CEO, WWF Finland, tel. +358 40 840 7461, liisa.rohweder@wwf.fi

Taru Savolainen, Special Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 40 535 8622, firstname.lastname(at)ym.fi

NOTE: It is inaccurate to simply look at media accounts from previous years to determine past Earth Overshoot Days. However, the dates of past Earth Overshoot Days are comparable when they are calculated with the data based on the most recent year. According to the most recent reports, the overshoot day has settled at around the beginning of August. Based on the most recent recalculated data, last year's Earth Overshoot Day fell on 3 August. A list of previous Earth Overshoot Days: www.overshootday.org/newsroom/past-earth-overshoot-days.

This is the first time ever that animal and plant species become extinct as a consequence of human activities. We have lost more than a half of vertebrate wildlife in approximately 40 years. We are losing not only fascinating animals and very beautiful scenery but also natural diversity, which is vital to all life on the Earth.

It is not too late to stop the loss of biodiversity. Let's do it together!